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Accidents Caused by Rubbernecking

Posted on July 21, 2017

People are naturally curious whenever they see an accident on the side of the road. When there are emergency vehicles, lights flashing and banged-up cars it’s hard not to look. But slowing down and gawking at someone else’s misfortune can cause another accident — and this one could involve you.

The Dangers of Rubbernecking

Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary defines “rubberneck” as “an overly inquisitive person” or “to look about or stare with exaggerated curiosity.” Another common expression for this phenomenon is “onlooker traffic.” There are many dangers associated with rubbernecking, including:

  • Slowing down to stare at an accident greatly increases your chance of being rear-ended by a car who didn’t notice your slowdown (possibly because he or she was also looking at the accident).
  • Similarly, rubbernecking causes traffic jams when some cars slow down to gawk and others are trying to get around the onlookers.
  • Swerving into other lanes or vehicles when you take your eyes off the road to look at the accident. You might end up sideswiping another vehicle and/or pushing it off the road or into another vehicle.
  • If you are a pedestrian rubbernecker, focusing on the accident instead of oncoming traffic can also be dangerous. Similarly, drivers who stop paying attention to the road could hit pedestrian onlookers.
  • If you are staring at the accident you might miss important directions from emergency personnel who were perhaps trying to alert you to some other danger in the road.

For example, the death of a 61-year-old man in Durant, Oklahoma, might have been caused by rubbernecking. In November 2016 a semi-truck hit a Ford F-350 hauling a flatbed trailer on Highway 69/75, flipping both vehicles onto their sides. The Ford driver was airlifted to the hospital in serious condition. An hour later, a second semi-truck rear-ended a smaller car, pushing it into a third semi-truck. The driver of that car died at the scene.

According to police reports, the slowdown in traffic from the first accident was a factor in the second accident. One police officer was quoted as saying: “I hate to use the word rubberneckers but people that want to slow down for no reason, to see what’s going on. They see emergency vehicles, they see a helicopter landing.” 

Reach Out to Us Today

If you are injured in a car accident caused by rubbernecking, contact the law office of Charles Bryan Alred, P.C., today. We will help you recover compensation for your injuries.